Avant l'effondrement du Mont Blanc
Online streaming the Sunday 16 August at 23:01 (UTC+2)
Mountains are falling, and there’s nothing we can do about it. And even if we have the means to rise to their height to admire them, to surpass those inaccessible peaks where many explorers lost their lives trying to gain the privilege of overcoming them, the mountains will continue to fall as they continue to rise. If Mount Blanc falls, it also rises.
A major figure in the French digital art and avant-garde film scenes since the late 1990s, Jacques Perconte (born 1974, lives and works in Paris) considers himself a visual artist. He concentrates on the landscape, utilizing a variety of forms including linear film for cinema and generative film for exhibition/gallery, audiovisual performance, photography and installation. His primary focus is to examine our ongoing cultural and technical relationships with nature.
“Discovering the work of Jacques Perconte is traveling in a country with magical landscapes where time expands. The colors gush from all sides. The image becomes a pictorial material to transform the cinema screen into a true painting.”
His surprising formal universalism, which references the history of painting and its command of nature as subject, was borne from the relationship between the delicate rhythm and apparent softness of the natural world in contrast with the extreme technicality of digital images in the computational world. Through reverse engineering and expert manipulation of the encoding and storage technologies of digital video, Jacques Perconte crafts magical landscapes as colorful fairytales whose critical and popular success is growing.
Perconte’s exhibition venues include both cinematic theaters and contemporary exhibition spaces. His major solo exhibitions include annual shows at Galerie Charlot in Paris, as well as recent exhibitions at Prieuré Saint-Pierre to Pont-Saint-Esprit and the College des Bernardins of Paris. In 2013, the Côté Courts festival featured a significant focus on Perconte’s filmography, showing 26 films over many days. The exclusive and secret club of David Lynch—the Silencio in Paris—screened ten of his films in April 2014. The French Cinematheque, France’s most prestiguous venue for cinema, gave Perconte carte blanche to present his avant-garde program “Suns” in 2014-15. Later in 2015 the Mostra Invideo in Milan focused its 25th edition exclusively on his work.
Can you tell me about the starting point of Avant l’effondrement du Mont Blanc ? In what context was your film made?
The majority of the images of Avant l’effondrement du Mont Blanc were shot in April 2020 in an airplane around Mont Blanc. The film includes of course an ecological dimension. In fact, I have friends who do mountain climbing and who are aware of the effects of global warming on this environment, and especially the eternal melting of snow that leads to frequent rock falls and landslides.
Your film presents many different types of images. What was your creative process? What techniques and materials did you use in its conception?
The images were captured from an airplane, the one we see a moment in the video. We can also see images of old maps of the massif. I also proceeded to reuse images found on the internet, avalanches in particular. These maps have nothing to do with the Mont-Blanc, nor even with the Alps, they are images of an American massif. It is rare that in my work I do such precise research, but I had a very clear idea of what I was expecting. During the editing process, I digitally transformed the images by letting the movement vectors appear. These are the fine black lines that appear at a certain point. Through these transformations, the film tends towards a form of abstraction. I also worked on colors, especially white and blue which are omnipresent in high mountains. In the plane, I chose to shoot the images in slow motion so that I could accelerate them later. That’s what gives this frenetic side to certain moments. I wanted to show the graph of the world’s movement, which we only feel when a cataclysm takes place.
Can you tell me about the title of the film? Can we hear an ecological insurrection, particularly with the melting of the glaciers and their disappearance? In this sense, can your film be likened to collapsology, a discourse that also includes the notion of collapse?
There is no fatalism in me regarding the ecological situation. The Collapse I’m talking about is not limited to collapsological theories, and I’ve always wanted to keep my distance from this thought of the end of the world. On the contrary, it is a natural phenomenon. The perception that we have of this idea of collapse is human, we have only very recently noticed the action that we are taking on our environment. The anthropocene. Outside nature evolves beyond good and evil. Of course the melting of the permafrost is only accelerating. Paradoxically, global warming is causing the size of mountains to decrease, while plate tectonics is helping them to grow. Maybe what leads to this collapsing vision is the last part of the film. That said, originally, a text accompanied the images of the film, and there was no question of ending the film this way.